The projects which help street children must always be implemented in collaboration with organizations already established in the country of destination and have the approval of the relevant official bodies. In Bolivia, the state does not allow interference with sensitive issues such as aid to marginal social groups, like the street children, without its supervision and approval. In addition, the non-governmental organizations operating in Bolivia, not only work closely with these institutions but they also have a very clear vision of the needs and priorities that have to be analysed before developing a new project. Even if we consider one issue particularly urgent, critical or necessary, we should take into account that our perception of needs, emergencies and injustice can never be compared to the perceptions on the ground. Our way and their way of facing daily life are so different than any analysis of the situation is flawed from the start. Therefore, not taking into account these organizations, which live daily the Bolivian situation is entirely nonviable.
The word counterpart in international cooperation means the social entity, which implements the projects in the destination country (Bolivia for example). It may happen that sometimes depending on the size of the association operating in the place of origin (Andorra for example), its specialization and implementation zone, the organization has a branch in the country of destination, which operates as the counterpart.
Thus, for example in our case, one of the counterparts with which we collaborate more, the Don Bosco Project, belonging to the Salesian Order, is a local organization which depends at the same time on the Central Order of the Salesians based in Rome. This is due to the fact that the presence of the Church in Latin America is many centuries old and therefore they are already deeply entrenched in the country and have the capacity to be able to work locally independently from their central base.
The counterpart is a national association working at the destination country performing the same kind of activities than the associations from similar or different backgrounds it collaborates with. It usually implements national and international projects and has a structure, which enables to receive aid from various local organizations directly concerned by the natural working environment of the association. In our case, we are referring to the Prefecture, the City Hall and the Child Welfare Department among others. It also has the necessary knowledge and local presence as to get the support from the private sector. The aid may be in the form of financial contributions, yet the most important type of support is what is called “qualified” aid, which may be the following:
- Providing human resources from various government agencies under certain agreements.
- Providing capital assets through usufruct contracts, tenancy or property, such as land, buildings, etc.
- Administrative support through regulations, laws, certificates, degrees, etc.
- Technical support through staff, equipment, consulting, medical/health, etc.
- Providing medicines, food, school supplies, etc.
In most cases, organizations at the place of origin have a main objective to accomplish at destination, through implementing developed projects in most cases in the hands of the counterpart. The latter has a clear vision of the environment, relationship with local entities, both public and private, which are involved in the project and full trust from the group concerned as well as knowledge about it and about its environment. Thus, the associations from the country of origin help to develop projects that the counterpart needs and by being involved from the beginning, they can provide the necessary financial, technical and human resources that will be required.
It can be said that the association in the destination country can always find a "sponsor" to help develop its action, either through national private entities, local or international governmental bodies or international associations. On the contrary, the associations working at the place of origin will always need the support of the counterpart, otherwise their action in the short or long term is condemned to fail. The reasons are many but may be summarized in two basic points:
- Knowledge of the geographical, cultural, professional and administrative environment.
- Specific knowledge of the problem.